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Senate Estimates reveals financial benefit to Wool Innovation Directors

Media Release
Lee Rhiannon 24 Oct 2017


24 October 2017

Senate Estimates reveals financial benefit to Wool Innovation Directors

Wal Merriman, Chair of industry body Australian Wool Innovation Ltd, admitted at today’s Senate Estimates hearings that past and present Directors of AWI have financially benefited from the sale of drugs used in mulesing.

Mulesing is the removal of strips of skin from around a sheep’s buttocks to prevent flystrike.

Greens animal welfare spokesperson, Senator Lee Rhiannon, said that AWI has been effectively highjacked by a group of woolgrowers that are putting their own profit margins before the health of Australia’s wool industry.

“Under questioning today it became clear the Australian Wool Innovation is a vehicle for a group of farmers committed to retaining cruel mulesing practices despite the negative impact on our international textile trade and despite the suffering caused by mulesing,” Senator Rhiannon said.

“We now know that former and current AWI Directors, Chick Olsson and Dr Meredith Sheil, have financial interest as inventors of the drug Tri-Solfen, the anaesthetic used on mulesed sheep. They are also owners of the company that developed the drug.
“The marketing and manufacturing rights of Tri-Solfen have been sold to Bayer. However, Dr Sheil and Mr Olsson have not disclosed if they still receive a financial interest, such as royalties from the development of the drug. 

“Australian Wool Innovation is choosing to invest in sheep requiring mulesing instead of funding genetic research that can help farmers stop the cruel practice of mulesing.

“In 2009 AWI backed out of its commitment to phase out cruel mulesing in the Australian wool industry.

“Current AWI Chair Mr Merriman, a breeder of merino sheep bloodlines, does not support a move away from mulesing.

“The AWI policy of supporting mulesing with pain relief has helped boost Tri-Solfen sales,” Senator Rhiannon said.

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